I can hear Patrick Stewart purring about evolution, in that I-could-whip-out-a-spine-tingling-Shakespearean-monolog-if-I-wanted-to voice. I can hear him tell me that evolution takes place slowly, over millions of years – except every now and then, evolution makes a startling leap forward.

I’m having a startling leap.

This is the evolution in my attitude towards others – which is, obviously, how we judge ourselves. (How we feel about others is an unflinching reflection of how we feel about ourselves, but leave that for later.) Evolution:

Since before the time of the dinosaurs, I looked at people running on the street or on a jogging path and I knew (I knew) that this was the kind of person who didn’t feel right in their skin until they went out and put in a few miles on the pavement. He or she was arranging their day so they’d be able to carve out this precious alone time, where they could regain a sense of connection to the world and to their own bodies. They craved that rhythm; that thud. That glide. They felt better about themselves and the world when they could just go for a run.

So of course I envied and rather hated them, in an unthinking way. Runners (to me) were “they.” Sitters were “we.” A runner found peace and joy in an activity that made me sweat and curse and look around in desperation for a cab to get me out of here. Seeing runners made me feel bad about myself.

Then – the industrial revolution: I began learning how to run with Barbara. I came to see that it mattered how your foot struck the earth beneath you, and whether your ribs popped up, and why glutes were more powerful than quads. I became fixated on the position of the hips. Do they sway? (bad) or swivel? (good)

And then I looked at people running on the street or on a jogging path and I tried to see how they were running. Was all their movement forward, or were they wasting time going from side to side? Did they look like they were enjoying themselves? What had they chosen to wear to take their run?

I didn’t hate runners then; I still envied them. But I saw them as instructional examples. Seeing runners made me feel humble.

And then last night: The huge leap in evolution.

I was driving on a dark, rainy street and, impossibly, passed some long-legged guy out for a run in a monsoon in the middle of the night. “Man,” I thought, “THAT guy must REALLY love to run. I still hate it. I do it, but I hate it.”

And here came Patrick Stewart, rolling up in my mind in his X-Men wheelchair, announcing that I was just about to make a big evolutionary leap…

“I run but I hate it,” I thought… “…and that makes me MORALLY SUPERIOR to the people who run because they love it!”

You see it, right?? Doing what is right is undeniably good (in this case, taking care of the body I’ve been ignoring for decades). There’s no downside to that.

BUT if you love to take care of your body, then it’s nowhere near as hard for you as it is for someone whose abiding skill is the ability to remain curled up in an armchair for long hours in Westeros or Narnia or London in 1812 or any of a thousand other delicious locations.

You run because you love it – you are good.

I run even though I hate it – I am good AND disciplined.


Patrick Stewart would no doubt deflate this evolutionary burst of ego. Fortunately, he’s busy at the moment doing something extremely clever. Probably Shakespeare, or boldly going where no man has gone before. So I remain pompously inflated with my own arrogance.

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PS: I haven’t run in a week; I am laid low by a cold. BUT I WILL BE BACK. Like Professor Xavier.





9 thoughts on “Evolution

  1. You are the best. And definitely superior in ALL WAYS.
    Also — FYI –I do love to run– but not always. Sometimes it is bloody hard to get out there and keep going.
    Sometimes, like right now when I’m not running but rather nursing an uncomfortable pain that is probably caused by a slightly inflamed tendon on teh inside of my right knee, I rather enjoy not running. I miss a lot about it, but a break feels weirdly good even though my knee doesn’t (though perhaps that is because I think it’s good for my soul to have the moral superiority engendered by endless running taken down a notch or two). Or perhaps it is because I just need a little rest. And Change. Or because not running makes my knee feel better right now.
    So I sit on my bicycle outside (under shelter), and madly pedal to nowhere (the bike is propped on a thing that makes this possible), while listening to an audio version of The Hobbit. It’s kinda fun. Who knew?


    1. But I KNOW YOU. You LOVE curling up with a book for hours! How can you be in both tribes at the same time?! In the Venn diagram of life, is there an overlap?! Might I one day find myself there?? Sigh. I don’t know. But I know I wish you a happy, healthy knee! SMOOCHES!


      1. I listened to the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy read by a dreamy British man (who could have read the phone book and I would have listened) while recovering from pneumonia.And he could pronounce all the names easily and speak Elvin. Amazing.


  2. The great thing is that you are learning to run so that you don’t majorly hurt yourself doing it. I could use some lessons on walking I think. I did two 5-mile hikes on the beach the last two days while visiting a friend and found my lower back tight and my shoulder blades pinched. Obviously I am doing something that leaves me out of whack! Oh well, it was a lovely sunny day and the air smelled deliciously beachy.


    1. Impressive – two five-mile walks in two days! You’re my new hero! On the subject of low back tightness, I would venture to quote from The Amazing Barbara and say – it’s all about the abs. More abs. More abs. No – MORE abs. Where are your headlights? (That is, if you had headlights on your hip bones, would they be pointing straight ahead, or down at the floor? Guess where mine ALWAYS are?!) Who the hell can keep up strong abs for FIVE MILES??!


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